Today’s guest post was written by Sheryl Kayne, a seasoned expat and traveller who has lived in various locations throughout the world and is author to two great books. Who better to advise us on the process expatriates undergo when they return home after an extended trip abroad?
Next Stop Home by Sheryl Kayne
Congratulations! You ventured into a different space and place to achieve something new in a unique way and you did it. The successful conclusion of a job, extended visit or trip abroad is a momentous occasion. Reentry is not always easy and may require some readjustment. Be prepared for some surprises when returning home, getting back into the groove, and making new spaces in old places. But first, recognize your achievement. You needed to depend on yourself in challenging situations and you came through with flying colors. The second is to applaud yourself for taking chances, meeting new people, trying new things, and learning that life isn’t always lived in the ways you’re used to. The third thing to do is to realize that you took time to value yourself and those you met. You refueled and regenerated in ways that will stay with you forever.
Four Stages to Returning Home
There are four stages to returning home: initial excitement, disillusionment, gradual readjustment, and adaptation.
- Initial excitement. With each adventure people learn something new to build on and fit into an evolving lifestyle. You return home on a high, excited about the new you. Yes, it’s great to be back, but the real pleasure lies in what you’ve learned and accomplished. However, it isn’t long until the reality of life back at home sets in and you ultimately enter stage two.
- Disillusionment. It isn’t unusual for expatriates to feel a bit like a round peg in a square hole when they first return home. People at home may feel threatened because you returned with a broadened outlook on life while nothing changed for them. Old friends might seem a bit tentative and boring; perhaps they are intimidated by your newly discovered strengths? Give yourself and others the time and space needed to understand and appreciate the new you.
- Gradual readjustment. In step three, as you make gradual readjustments to life at home, stay cognizant of your strides forward without giving up what you’ve achieved while you were away. Give yourself the time you need to decompress from the intensity of your experience, which is more meaningful, more emotional, and has a greater impact on you than your average job or vacation. Plan a day or two to gradually readjust. Rather than arriving home on Sunday night for work on Monday, reach your destination Friday night or even earlier if possible to ease into your reentry.
- Adaptation. Adaptation to life back home occurs when what you’ve learned and accomplished is assimilated into your daily life. You’ve reached a comfort level with who you are and how you do things in a slightly new and different way. This could very well signal that it’s time for another adventure…
About the author:
Sheryl Kayne is a writer, adventurer, performer, educator, and public speaker and has lived in Europe, Israel, Maui, Taos, New Mexico, the Everglades and assorted other places for extended periods of time. She is the author of Volunteer Vacations Across America and Immersion Travel USA: The Best and Most Meaningful Volunteering, Living, and Learning Excursions (Countryman Press, a division of W. W. Norton and Company), they are both available at a great price on Amazon. She also runs a popular website called Immersion Traveler, which offers useful information and ideas for volunteer vacations across the United States. Sheryl would love to hear from you at ImmersionTravel@aol.com.